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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  October 10, 2011 7:00am-8:00am EDT

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excruciating experience, who was this man? that's what i really tried to focus on. >> it's been 10 years since september 11, have we learned anything from this trial as a country? what can we still learn? >> sadly, we have a learned that we can actually have a trial in the civilian court. instead there's going to be this move to try to the people in guantanamo. yes, this trial is extremely expensive. it's in the millions of dollars. that's very expensive. on the other hand, some of the reporters covering this case, particularly for the arabic tv press through the bbc said to me that he was amazed at the fairness of this trial.
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he had the right to speak. they have the right to express himself. he had the right to make pleadings. he was not taken out or hang or executed. he could speak. and the judge i think to her credit bend over backwards to make sure he did have those rights. there are certain rights in the u.s. court system, and i hope people will realize that the military commissions that similar rights need to be afforded to those people. >> thank you for your time. >> thank you. >> next on book tv, candice millard recounts the assassination of america's 20th president james garfield. she speaks at the james a. garfield national historic site in mentor, ohio. >> candice millard is an excellent writer from national geographic magazine and now we are very excited to have her talk about her second book, her
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first book was the river ofery e doubt about theodore roosevelt perilous journey down the amazos after his presidency. of we are pleased here she iswn thr chosen to tackle anotherease interesting presidentiald is subject, that being the assassination of president jamee garfield.interest iin believe this is her fourth trip here to the site. h it's really a great pleasure too welcome her here tonight. please make her feel welcome,re candice millard.onig [applause]ht her feel welcome, candice millard. [applause] >> thank you, thank you for that introduction. thank you all for coming. it is a real pleasure to be here and it is a great honor to be able to speak at the james a. garfield national historic site. i also wanted to say a particular thank you to the garfield family as well, which has been incredibly kind and generous and helpful to me
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throughout this whole process so thank you so much. at heart, this book is not about politics or science or even the shooting of a president. it is about an extraordinary drama that took place inside the white house for over more than two months. in a 130 years since garfield's death his story has been largely forgotten, but even at the time, even though the entire nation, the entire world was watching, no one really understood what was happening. what began as a shooting became an incredible struggle for power and ambition. the result was the brutal death of one of our most promising leaders at the hands of his own
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physicians. this is an intimate, heartbreaking story of ignorance versus science, the greed versus heroism. james garfield was not, as he has often been remember to be, just a bland bearded 19th century politician. on the contrary. that is the wrong picture. i am not sure what went up but on the contrary. he was one of the most extraordinary man ever elected president. although he was born into desperate poverty, he became a professor of literature, mathematics and ancient languages and he was just a sophomore in college. by the time he was 26 years old, he was a college president. he knew the entire -- i heart in latin. while he was in congress, he
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wrote an original proof of the pythagorean theory. to me though, what is more inspirational and more astonishing, even then garfield's brilliance was his decency. you know, i wrote a book about theodore roosevelt and i have great admiration for him. he was a firebrand. he was the hero, the center of every drama. that is not garfield. garfield was the columnist, wisest man in the room. he was a good, kind, honest man who was just trying his best. he was a real person, not consumed by ego and ambition, someone who was simply trying to do the right thing. even after 17 years in congress and one of the most ruthless, vicious eras of machine
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politics, garfield never changed. his friends used to marvel at his forbearance even in the face of the most brutal personal attacks, but garfield was incapable of holding a grudge. he used to just shrug and say, i am a -- hater. although garfield took his presidency very seriously, he had never had what he called presidential fever. in fact he never really ran for any office. people asked him to run and he did, but he would never even campaign. he always made it clear that he was going to follow his own conscience and convictions and if people didn't agree with him, they shouldn't vote for him. when garfield went to the republican convention in the summer of 1880, not only was he not a candidate, he didn't even want to be one. he had gone there to give a speech, and he was kicking
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himself because he wasn't prepared. he wrote a letter home telling his wife that he was just sick about the fact that he hadn't written his speech before the convention and now he wouldn't have time. the convention was an enormous hall in chicago. there were 15,000 people there, and the favorite to win by far was ulysses s. grant. he was trying for his third term in the white house. in the midst of this chaos and noise, thousands of people, garfield got up to speak and his speech was so powerful and so eloquent, and again largely extemporaneous, that the hall slowly fell silent until the only thing you could hear was garfield's voice and everyone was just riveted. they were spellbound. and at one point, garfield said, and so gentlemen i ask you, what
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do we want? someone shouted, we want garfield. and the entire hall just went crazy and when the balloting began, delegates began casting their ballots for garfield, even though again he wasn't even a candidate, and he stood up and he objected to the votes -- but the boats kept coming and he couldn't stop what was happening and what was a trickle became a stream, became a river and then finally a flood of votes and before garfield knew it, he was the republican nominee for president of the united states. what i found again and again and again while i was researching this book was that not only was garfield's life and nomination and brief presidency full of incredible stories, but the people who surrounded him were also unbelievable. he just couldn't make them up.
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first of course is chalres guiteau. guiteau was a deeply, it dangerously delusional man but he was very intelligent and highly articulate. if you read nearly any other account of garfield's fascination, guiteau is described as a disgruntled office speaker but that doesn't cover the smallest part of it. he was a uniquely american character. he was the product of this country at that time, a time when there was a lot of play in the -- and there was no one to really understand what he was up to, and hold him to account for it. guiteau was a self-made madman. he was smart and scrappy. he was a clever opportunist and he would probably have been very successful if he hadn't been insane.
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guiteau had tried everything and he had failed at everything. he had tried law, evangelism, even a free love commune in the 1800's and he had failed even at that. the women in the commune nick named him charles get out. [laughter] but he survived on sheer audacity. he traveled all over the country by train, never bought a ticket. he took great pride in moving from boarding house to boarding house, slipping out when the rent was due. and even when he occasionally worked as a bill collector, he would just keep whatever he managed to collect. after the republican convention, guiteau became obsessed with garfield and immediately after the election, he began to stalk the president. he went to the white house nearly every day. at one point he even walked into the president's office while the president was in the senate. he even attended a reception and
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introduced himself to garfield's wife. he shook her hand, he gave her his card and he slowly pronounced his name so she wouldn't forget him. it was like a hitchcock movie. it is incredibly creepy and absolutely terrifying. finally, guiteau had what he believed was a divine inspiration. god wanted him to kill the president. it was nothing personal he would later say, simply god's will. as strange and fascinating and nearly as dangerous as guiteau was, senator roscoe conkling and that is chester arthur. we skipped his picture. conkling was pretty vicious. conkling was a vain and preening brutally powerful machine politician who appointed himself garfield's enemy. there is conkling. he wore a canary yellow
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waistcoat. he use lavender in. he had as you can see this great spit curl in the middle of his forehead and he would coil at the slightest touch. in fact his vanity was so outside that he was famously ridiculed for it by another congressman on the floor of congress. but conkling was no joke. he was dangerously powerful. as a senior senator from new york he controlled the new york customs house, which was the largest federal office in the united states and controlled 70% of the countries customs revenue. conkling tightly controlled patronage within his state and he expected complete and unquestioning loyalty. in fact, his apartment in new york was known as the morgue. conkling was in a rage when his candidate, former president grant, didn't get the nomination but he was apoplectic when he realized that he couldn't
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control garfield. to conkling, the attempt on garfield's life was his ticket back into power. but for the first time in conkling's life, nothing turned out as he planned. chester arthur was garfield's vice president, but he was conkling's man, and politically he was completely conkling's creation. in fact the only other political office he had ever held was as the collector of the new york customs house, a position that conkling threw president grant had given to him. in that position he made as much money as the president and he never showed up for work before noon. arthur preferred a life of leisure. he liked old wine, late dinner parties and was nearly as preening as conkling and in fact even moved his birthdate back here to appear more youthful. even within the republican party
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arthur's nomination was considered a ridiculous. after the election he went on vacations with conkling. he even lived with him for a time in d.c., and he took every opportunity to publicly criticize the president. and then suddenly everything changed. after garfield rashad arthur made a transformation so stunning and complete that no one could believe it. the entire country was horrified. the thought that chester arthur might be president, but unlike conkling arthur was sickened and grief stick and by the shootings. the last thing that he wanted was for garfield to die. he hid himself from public view. he refused even to go to washington for fear that it would look like he was waiting in the wings and he cut himself
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off from conkling. finally come after turning his back on the man who had made him, arthur found moral strength in the most unlikely of places, the letters of a young invalid woman named julius and. sands believed in arthur when no one else did, when he didn't even believe in himself. after the shooting sand road to author, if there is spark of true nobility in you, now is the occasion to let it shine. faith in your better nature forces me to write to you, but not to ask you to resign. it is more difficult and more brave reform. and to everyone's amazement not least of all arthur's he did it. he changed dramatically and he tried to be the president garfield would have been had he lived. he became an honest and respected leader and he never
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forgot julius sand. not only did he keep her letters, he wrote her back and he even went to visit her. one day after sunday dinner she was at her brother's house and a highly polished carriage pulled up in front of the house and to sand the's astonishment resident arthur stepped out. he had come to thank her in person for her help. the reason arthur became president was not because of his madness or even conkling's political maneuvering but the ambition, ignorance and dangerous arrogance of the man who assumed control of garfield's medical care, dr. willard bliss. that's right, his first name was doctor. his parents had named him doctor bliss was a well-known surgeon with a practice and in fact he had been one of the doctors at
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abraham lincoln's bedside that he had far from a sterling reputation. he had enthusiastic he sold something which was supposed to cure cancer, syphilis, ulcers, chronic blood diseases, you name it. list had even been disgraced for taking bribes after he spends a small amount of time in prison. when robert todd lincoln who was garfield secretary of war, bliss saw and this national tragedy a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for fame and power. he immediately took charge of the president's medical care, even though no one had given him the authority. he just took it. he dismissed the other doctors and he completely isolated garfield in a sick room in the white house. he wouldn't even let him see his secretary of state. and what happened in that room, inside the white house, is
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nothing short of horrifying. bliss and a few surgeon he had handpicked to help him inserted unsterilized fingers and instruments and garfield back again and again, day after day, searching for bullets. the last thing bliss wanted was for garfield to die. he had too much at stake, but his own arrogance and ignorance were slowly and excruciatingly killing the president. the only hope for garfield was to find the bullet and and the search, but this was 14 years before the invention of a medical x-ray. what happened next is nothing short of incredible. only the most brazen novelists would make it up. none other than alexander graham bell stepped forward to help. bell, a young restless genius had invented the telephone just five years earlier when he was only 29 years old.
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1881, the telephone had earned him some money and a lot of -- but he wanted nothing to do with the company that he grown up around it. he said it was hateful to him at all times and that it fettered him as an inventor. worse even than the business board the lawsuits against the telephone. there were 600 lawsuits against him, five of which went to the united united states supreme court. finally, bell had had enough. he said he was sick of the telephone and he quit the bell telephone company. bell just wanted to help people. he had lost both of his brothers to tuberculosis before he was 24 years old. both his wife and his mother were deaf, and he knew that he could make life better for people, maybe even save lives. but he worked so hard that his parents and his wife were terrified that he literally
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woodwork himself to death. when he was working he wouldn't stop to eat or rest. his only respite was to play the piano deep into the night, but even then he played with such an intensity that his mother, who had taught him to play, called it a musical fever. when garfield was shot, bill turned his life upside down to help him. it sickened him to think of garfield's doctors blindly searching for the bullets. science he thought should be able to do better than that. bella band and everything he was doing and spends day and night inventing something called an induction balance which was basically a metal detector that he hooked up to the telephone receiver. and which he slowly ran over the president's body, listening for telltale buzzing that would tell him where the bullet was lodged. in the end, bell and science were defeated, but not because
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the invention didn't work. it did work. in fact, it went on to save countless lives before the invention of the medical x-ray. alexander graham bell was defeated by the arrogant ambition and ignorance of the presidents own doctors. as i began my research for this book, the question that come -- coming to me was how could this have happened? what i found was first of all, the presidency in 1881 was very different from the presidency today. first of all secret service. this is 16 years after the assassination of abraham lincoln and there is still no secret service protection for the presidency. garfield had only his 24-year-old private secretary and an aging policeman. not only was the president not protected from the public, but he was expected to interact with them one-on-one, face-to-face,
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on a daily basis. you have to remember that this is the height of the foil system and many americans believe that they were entitled to government jobs, even if they had no training or credentials for them. more than that, they insisted on making their case directly to the president himself. garfield was forced to meet with office speakers from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every day, and the situation made him desperate. he longed for time to work and think, and he wondered why anyone would ever want to be president. but while he found it tiresome and even maddening he never considered them to be dangerous. he said that assassination can no more be guarded against then death by lightning and it is best not to worry about either. he walked all around the city by himself all the time.
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in fact one night he left the white house, he walked down the street to the secretary of state's house, they walked along together through the streets of washington with guiteau following them the entire way, holding a loaded gun. in fact, by the time -- by that time guiteau had been stalking the president for weeks. he had even followed him to church and had considered shooting him in church. finally, he made his decision. the president he knew would be at the baltimore train station in washington d.c. on the morning of july 2, 1881 and guiteau would be waiting. the moment guiteau -- the moment garfield walked into the station that warning guiteau stepped out of the shadows and shot him twice. the first bullet hit the president in the arm and the second ripped through his back. by an incredible stroke of luck
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however, guiteau didn't kill garfield. he only wanted him. the bullet that tore through his back didn't hit his spinal cord. it didn't hit any vital organs. today he was -- would spend two nights in a hospital. even if he had been left alone he almost certainly would have survived. fortunately for garfield in the nation, dr. bliss stepped in. ballistic advantage of the fear in the chaos that followed the shooting to assume control of garfield's medical care. but he was not only ambitious and arrogant, he adhered to the most traditional medical methods of the time. bliss gave garfield a gunshot victim, rich food and alcohol. he took great satisfaction in what he called the healthy issuing from from the presidents infected wound and he avoided any treatment he considered to be new and radical, including
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antisepsis. the renowned producer john joseph lister had discovered antisepsis the prevention of infection destroying germs 16 years earlier. the death rate in his surgical ward had plummeted and he had traveled all around, begging doctors to sterilize their hands and their instruments, and warning them that if they didn't, they ran the very real risk of killing their patient. by 1881 and antisepsis was widely accepted in europe, but the most experienced and respected doctors in the united states still dismissed it as useless, even dangerous. some still didn't even really believe in germs. they laughingly referred to them as invisible germs, and they certainly didn't want to go to all the trouble that antisepsis required to kill them. they took great pride in what they called the good old surgical stink. they would not change or wash
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their surgical aprons because they believe that the more blood and that was on them the more experienced it showed. even though to try and processes had little success for reasons that today seem painfully clear, they would sterilize their knives, but if they drop them during surgery they would just pick them up and continue using them. if they needed both of their hands during surgery, they would hold the knife in their teeth and then use it. even alexander graham bell could not outrace infection that was coursing through garfield's body. the story however doesn't end there. garfield's death brought about tremendous changes, changes in medicine, and politics, in the fabric of our nation. as soon as garfield's autopsy was released, and the american people understood that their president didn't have to die and they understood why he did.
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bliss was publicly disgraced and antisepsis was adopted across the country. americans turned their rage and their grief on the political system that would encourage a madman like guiteau. chester arthur himself who owed his entire career to patronage signed the pendleton act which was the beginning of the end of the foil system. garfield also brought the countries together in a way that it not be seen since the civil war. lincoln's assassination had only deepened the divide but garfield had been the first president who was accepted by the south since the civil war. he was accepted as a leader of the whole country, north and south, immigrant and pioneer, freedmen and former slave owners. his death was their loss and their common grief brought them together. above all, garfield's death
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changed the presidency itself. you could argue that this really marked the end of the idealistic or perhaps naïve concept of the president alone beating with office speakers, personally making appointments at every level in government. it was obviously an unworkable system for many reasons. it was open to corruption. it was completely inefficient, and it was personally dangerous. it would never have worked as the united states grew into a major world power and it is good that it is gone. but at the same time, these changes also make it almost impossible to ever again elect someone like garfield. the presidency today is not about a single person but about a large complex institution. the president may be our greatest political celebrity but his personal power is bounded by and filtered through many
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layers. he is surrounded by elaborate security. his contact with the public is carefully controlled and he operates in this bubble of secret service officers, high officials and the press. it is very unlikely that what happened to garfield could happen today, but by the same token even if we could find someone like garfield, we couldn't elect him. the presidency is too big and too distant for americans to be able to choose someone who isn't even trying to be elected. it seems to be open only to people who are willing to sacrifice almost anything to become president. we have hopefully outgrown the day when a madman can just walk into the oval office and an incompetent dr. can seize control of the white house for nearly three months, murdering the president in the process. but we likely have also outgrown
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the day when americans can recognize the promise of a fine, honest man, man with no financial report, no political machine, nothing but the strength of his own words and ideas, and in a shining moment of democracy make him our leader. thank you. [applause] [applause] happy to take questions. >> if you are going to ask a question please approach the microphone and speak into the microphone please. thank you. >> marvelous presentation. were there any among garfield's family, friends or subordinate
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to champions bill's machine over lister's methods and if so how did that play out? >> well, bell himself offered his help. he as i said quit the bell telephone company and he had opened a small laboratory in d.c.. as soon as the president was shot, he knew that he could help him and he offered his house. by that time, although everything was going great, the president is doing very well, yet become desperate so he accepted bell's help. and, interestingly, although as i said, really the most respected, most experienced doctors in the united states dismissed lister's methods. there were some young doctors who had been studying his methods in europe and watch this with growing horror but didn't feel that they could stand up to these well-known doctors.
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there was i would probably say, i am by the way born and raised in ohioan but i've lived in kansas now, and there was a doctor from kansas who wrote to the creation of garfield's wife and told her, don't let them close to one. make sure they sterilize everything but that just never got through to bliss, who ran things exact we as he wished. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> hello. i don't mean to get you off the track but i am thinking that garfield played a very significant role in the 1876 election and the commission that actually elected the president and if i'm right about that could you tell me little bit about that? >> that was a very controversial election in which hayes was given the presidency. i'm not sure to be honest exactly how much of a role garfield played in that. but, it was interesting in that everyone was very very closely watching the election of 1880, because of this and also because
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it was such a stunning nomination for garfield as -- at at the republican conviction -- convention so this the selection was closely watched by everyone except for garfield who was very happily here with his family, doing experience -- experience and was thrilled he was nasty campaign which was considered unseemly at that time. >> thank you. >> thank you very much. i find it very fascinating the three of our great presidents, lincoln garfield and mckinley were all kindly towards african-americans and all assassinated. our calendar this year is the same as 1881, and it was on this date on a thursday and tomorrow that garfield's body lay in state in the nation's capital. i would just thank you for coming here on this day to our hometown. thank you. [applause] >> my honor, thank you. [applause] >> high. what do you think about garfield
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to quit being a general one of the civil war were still raging to go back into politics? what is your response about garfield as a politician? >> well garfield didn't want to. abraham lincoln asked him to come back. he needed him back in congress fighting the fight that lincoln had, and garfield understood that. it was difficult for him. you know, he loved his regiment which was, many of whom are made up from boys from the institute. so it was a difficult decision for him and he felt very passionately about the civil war, not only in keeping the country together but in bringing about abolition. he was a fierce abolitionist and what is our national hero because of his work in the civil war. thank you. >> thank you very much for an excellent presentation. toward the end of your presentation you said this in the last paragraph that dr. bliss was murdering the
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president. you don't see any malice to him but utter incompetence? and one more question, just a little bit about your background. i'm curious to know how you got interested in the subject. >> i will address the bliss thing. you are absolutely right. the lasting bliss wanted was for garfield to die. in fact he wrote a letter to a friend on white house stationery saying, i can't afford to have him die underlining each word. he was desperate. he worked night and day. he lost his house, he lost his practice, but he was incredibly arrogant. he dismissed all the other doctors and he was woefully ignorant. he knew about antisepsis, and so you know, you have to judge them on that. your other question was how i got interested in this? to be honest, i didn't, even though i grew up in ohio it didn't know much about garfield be on the fact that he had been
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assassinated and i wasn't necessarily interested in writing about another president but i was interested in science. and i was researching alexander graham bell and i stumbled upon the story of so they trying to save garfield after garfield was shot. i was done because first of all i'd never heard the story and secondly, i couldn't understand why bell, who really was at the height of his fame and his power, would turn his life upside down to do this. i mean, he had a family in boston, his wife and his children. his wife is pregnant and they had been planning on going to maine because it was incredibly hot and he had just left them and spend all of this time, night and day working on this. so it made me wonder, why would he do that and what was garfield like? when i started to research garfield, i was completely captivated, and i knew i had to tell the story.
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>> hi candice. how are you? i want to follow in his same thing. i know that you are from a small town in ohio, and are a product of public education. how did you become a inspired to be a a right right or? >> that is a great question. you know, i didn't ever think i would be a writer. i was a reader. i was a voracious reader. i love to read and i thought it would probably teach, and i got an undergraduate masters degree in literature and thought i was going to go on to get mike ph.d. but to be honest i hated literary criticism. [laughter] and i realized that i really wanted to write, so really it was a process. it wasn't at all overnight. it was little by little. i had gotten my masters at baylor and i moved home, moved in with my parents, literally open the yellow pages calling every publisher in town looking for a job and had all of these little magazine jobs are going
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work for a magazine for veterinarians and never even had a pet. [laughter] knew nothing, sort of figuring out and finally got my dream job when i was 28 years old, working at "national geographic." i was a researcher the first year but they have this terrific blind tests were a riding position on the magazine, and i applied along with 300 other people. i got the job and it was like the best thing that ever happened to me up to that point, and i did that for six years until i got the idea for my first book. it has been a journey but it has been wonderful. >> hi. wednesday doctor was working on garfield why didn't mrs. garfield tell the doctor to stop working on garfield? >> that is a wonderful question. you know, this was a time of chaos and confusion and fear,
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and bliss came forward very confidently and in fact he wrote a letter to the other doctors saying, the president and i thank you for your helping concerned that your efforts won't be necessary any longer, even though garfield and lucretia had never given him that authority. to lucretia, even though most doctors knew about antisepsis, lucretia didn't and she didn't really understand what was happening but she did keep on her doctor. she had a female doctor which is very rare that time, dr. edson whom they called mrs. dr. edson because they were so uncomfortable with a woman doctor but dr. edson refused to go away when to bliss's great annoyance and they said a ride you can stay but not as a doctor but as a nurse. she stated she did what she could. >> waton are you from and can i find the book in the library by
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now? >> that is a great question, thank you. originally i was born in marion ohioan i grew up in lexington, ohio which is very close to mansfield. and i think that it probably is in the library by knauss so thank you for asking. i hope you'll read it. >> what is it like to be an author and if you were going to write her next book, what is it going to be about? >> it is really really fun to be an author. i would recommend it highly. the best part for me was doing the research because you get to to do all these incredible things. when i wrote my first book, the river of doubt, it is about this unmapped river in the amazon the theater roosevelt went down and i got to go to that river. it is so incredibly remote. i hired a pilot and a small plane and i flew for hours over absolutely unbroken jungle from horizon to horizon, and i met this isolated group of men.
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their grandparents and great grandparents had followed roosevelt's expedition and they remembered all the stories, so you get these incredible experiences. researching this book, you know what was interesting the different -- researching the river of doubt was difficult logistically, planning all the trips. this was difficult emotionally because i became very attached to garfield. i really cared about him, and it was difficult to see what was happening. i kept wanting to just yell over the span of 130 years, stopped. somebody stop these men, but reading his wife's diary, reading his children's diaries, you know seeing actually a section of garfield spine in the national house of medicine that we use use during the trial. there were also the remains of chalres guiteau in a drawer with their remains of john wilkes booth.
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yeah. actually there is a jar, pieces of guiteau's brain which was sent around the country after he was executed to study to see if they could see any physical evidence of insanity. so, anyway it is a very interesting job and a real privilege to be able to do this. yes i am working on a next book. i can't get into the details about it because it is really early but it is going to be about winston churchill. thank you for your question. >> i remember hearing about the story of alexander graham bell and what he was doing and i heard that the thing that he did for the president actually did work but it went off all the time. seemed like the bold was all over the place but what they didn't realize, it worked because it was picking up the middle bedsprings underneath the president and that is why they had a hard time finding the bullet. is their nature to that story?
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>> isn't that astonishing? yeah and he had actually asked them if the president -- because it was a very new and very rare thing at that time to have a mattress with metal springs in it, and they said no. and in fact he was on a bed with metal spring so obviously that will affect the metal detector. the other reason it didn't find the bullet was bliss believed and have publicly stated that the bullet was on the president's right side and he would only let bell run is over the president's right side in the bullet was on the left. >> wow. and the other one is, i was kind of curious about, the old clicée ignorance is bliss. is this word where it comes from? [laughter] >> i have that in the book actually. that is a very perceptive of you. in fact, after the autopsy results, and this disgrace, newspapers in medical journals,
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everybody understands and one of the doctors proves that ignorance is bliss but it comes from a poem i think from the 1700's. [laughter] very apropos unfortunately. high. >> did you write any fiction books? >> no, i haven't written fiction. fiction and nonfiction writing is very different and i read a lot of fiction and i love it and i've gone to a lot of talks by fiction writers. i always marvel at myself because they will say, someone will say what is your process like? they say well i sort of let the story lead me and i kind of follow and my characters come in and to me that is a nightmare. i know exact lee -- my process is i spent three years writing a book in the fourth years doing foundational research. the entire second year i spend
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going through that research in outlining and outlining and outlining is really important. it will help in his saves you a lot of pain, believe me. i work on structure for an entire year and only then do i start writing. throughout though i will find holes in my research and i will go back and do more. >> that is what my teacher says. [laughter] >> she is right, she is right. you can't skip the outline, sorry. [laughter] speier which is like to know what is the term clinical machine mean? >> well, so this is the time and machine politics are incredibly incredibly corrupt and power mongering. rosco conkling was sort of the pinnacle example of that kind of corruption. i'm sure you have heard of loss tweet, so that really -- in the gilded age and mark twain and where that comes from.
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it was a time of rampant corruption bullying and the spoils system so you know, things obviously are not perfect now. >> when you are doing your research are you able to use the diaries and stuff like that and how do you go about obtaining that? is that out there for the public or did you get permission from the family or is it where the documents are? >> a lot of the garfield papers were found in a presidential papers at the library of congress and anybody can see them. you just need a driver's license and you go down a get a reader i.d. card that i will say that they are very very strict with their rules, which they obviously should be. these are national treasures, but for instance, i will give you a story here. you know i am a good person and i am very carefully following the rules but you are only allowed to have one card at a
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time and it can have five bands on it at a time. you can only have one been on your desk at a time in one folder out of bed then so am i'm following all the rules. i open a folder and there is an envelope in the folder. it is not -- in the face of it is facing the table. so i opened it up and out comes all at this hair. i turn it and it says clipped from president garfield on his deathbed. it is like oh my god. [laughter] i'm trying to get it -- oh my career is over. they are going to kick me out. you never know what you are going to find. it is an adventure. >> thanks. >> hi. you mentioned lucretia garfield's letters and diaries. are those published? >> they are. garfield kept a diary for many years and lucretia's diary is that they back at the last volume of garfield's diary and
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yes, there is this wonderful volume, letters between lucretia and james. you know, they only spend five months together during the first five years of their marriage because he was either gone fighting during the civil war or if he was in washington when he was in congress, she was here in ohio. so, and you know to her credit, she kept all of those letters. at the end of his life, garfield question if he would have much of a legacy because he had been president for such a brief time but lucretia understood who he was and she understood that he would. even though many of those letters are very painful because their early marriage was very difficult, she kept all of them and they are beautiful. as brilliant as he was, she was his equal intellectually, and i would highly recommend this book on their letters.
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speier i thank you for a very enjoyable evening. >> thank you so much. >> i have one question. wondering, you talked about james garfield being a multifaceted, multitalented man. how do you rank him with the others? such as jefferson? >> you know to me personally, and i'm obviously biased, i think had he lived, and believe that he would have been one of our great presidents. it is impossible to know, because he was in office for such a short time. youyou know know, i'm a great admirer of jefferson, great admirer of lincoln, but i think that honestly i think garfield had a mind like jefferson and a heart like lincoln. >> i agree, thank you. >> i was wondering, is it hard to find the research on him? >> you know, it is like being a detective kind of, and so it is
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really fun in that way. do just get to search and search and search, so when i began i just cast a very wide net so i looked everywhere and every place. you look in the obvious places like they came to minefield several times and we went to the college where he was a student and a teacher and a president, they went to the library of congress. but then i found little, like the new york bar, the library of the new york art has letters from guiteau that are just incredible. little universities have bits and pieces here and there and m it is like a treasure hunt. it is a lot of fun. any other questions? >> i just have one question to add to the thing about dr. bliss. was there any government action taken against him or prosecuted? did they ever investigate his ineptness? >> they didn't, you know and i think the country was
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heartbroken and enraged and focusing on charles guiteau in his trial. he had an insanity defense and the country was terrified who is going to get off and sent to an asylum rather than being hanged. also bliss never admitted that he had done anything wrong. he in fact insisted that he had given the very best medical care to the president and in fact he handed congress a very expensive bill for his work and was outraged when congress refused to pay it. >> thank you. >> i have several small questions. first of all have you ever talked to the group out of hiram college about this? >> i have done research at hiram college. i haven't talked with any group there. i did quite a bit of research in their library. >> do you think this would make a good book for a movie? >> yes. [laughter]
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[applause] >> i think it would make an excellent book for a movie. i can hardly wait to see it come out. my father was an ordained minister in the same church that garfield was, and i heard somebody say that he rode a horse from here over to the franklin christian church, which is a disciples of christ church. do you know if that is true? >> i don't know that story. i would love to hear it but i'm sorry, don't know what. >> that is what i've heard, anyway. thank you very much, an excellent talk. >> thank you very much. thank you everyone. i really enjoyed it. thank you so much. [applause] >> can i make just one comment?
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>> go ahead, bob. [laughter] >> the senior member and as part of the country as a matter fact, i would trade some of those years but that is not going to work. i want to thank you for an absolutely extraordinary undertaking that you took gone and achieved in. you have humanized someone who was a ghost in the past too many people who didn't even know the ghost was there. there have been things written about him and about the family in the past, but nothing begins to compare with what you have done here. so, thank you very much. >> this event was hosted by the james a. garfield national historic site in mentor, ohio.
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>> my work, my book, "courage to dissent" recalls the history of the movement in atlanta. and, of course, you all know that atlanta is a leading american city today, but it was also really important during the civil rights movement because it was the home to leading civil rights organizations. including the southern christian leadership council, and sncc, the student organization. so, what i would like to do is focus in particular on sncc and other ways of lawyers and activists who contributed to our unsung and who contributed to the history of the movement. i take a bottom-up perspective on constitutional law.
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what i'd like to do this afternoon is discussed three ways of unsung activists who i argue in my book contributed to the civil rights movement in important ways. the first point i want to emphasize is that all of these dissenters, and i style all of these people to centers, have the same overarching goal of equality. but they had different priorities and tactics for achieving equality. in fact, they defined equality in different ways. the first wave of dissenters were pragmatist. i call them pragmatists because they wanted to challenge jim crow, but without destroying the social and economic capital that the black middle class had built
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during segregation. so who were these pragmatists? well, they were some of the black college presidents in atlanta, many african-american teachers who were the lion share of the black middle class, and they also included eight t. walton who is the south first african lawyers. and here he is, a portrait of mr. walden. he was the son of former slaves and sharecroppers. he studied at atlanta university with debbie db2 boys. he went on to graduate from honors -- with honors from michigan. he is little known today, but walden really inspired a generation of african-american lawyers, including vernon jordan, lawyer, counsel to presidents who i'm sure some of
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you have heard of the. jordan called walden so impressive. he said ago, i want to be a lawyer just like walden. i wanted to walk like him and talk like him and hang out my shingle on auburn street just like walden. above all else, pragmatists like walden and the black college presidents prioritize voting rights as the path to black power. and here we see walden challenging the so-called white primary, applause, the tradition of excluding african-americans from the vote in georgia and elsewhere. and here is the result of his activism. in 1946 after the fall of the white primary, blacks lined up all over the streets in atlanta eager to exercise the franchise.
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and get walden and others were called a combination, uncle tom. so the question is why would that be? well, it was because he didn't challenged segregation in housing. instead, he made deals with local whites to find housing for african-americans where ever he could. in the midst of a postwar housing crisis. and this had the effect of maintaining the color line, and as a result, poor black neighborhoods remained intact. neighborhoods like the one where this woman lived, remained intact. and really his decisions had impact of exacerbating segregation over time. he also was called an accommodation is because he never fully embraced school desegregation. of course, achieve way in which
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thurgood marshall conceived equality. it was partly because he was interested in preserving the jobs of african-american school teachers. but also it was because he was worried that in the segregated schools, african-american students would not have a nurturing school environment. so because of his skepticism of school to segregation, he didn't file a case to desegregate the schools in atlanta and the 1958, although he promised thurgood marshall that he would file a case right after brown was decided in 1954. >> you can watch this and other programs on line at >> you've been watching booktv, 48 hours of the programming beginning saturday morning at eight eastern, through monday morning at eight east


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